Genesis 1-2: The Beginning Of The Story
This morning I’m telling a story. It’s a true story. It’s an old story but a very relevant story. It’s part of the greatest story. It’s part of a much longer story. It’s the story of Genesis and Exodus.
Our story starts in the beginning, when the good and wise and Creator made the universe, this world and everything in it. The Lord God crowned His amazing creation with two special creatures, made in His image – with mind, with will, with emotion, with the ability to reason, and with the ability to produce others made in His image – so that a multitude of human beings could become His friends and companions, His beloved sons and daughters, who would love Him, enjoy Him and be loved and enjoyed by Him and live with Him forever.
Genesis 3: The Fall Of Man, The Promise Of The Redeemer, And Temporary Atonement
Very soon after the creation, something happened that ruined humanity and damaged the universe and everything in it. After being warned not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve disobeyed.
This one act of disobedience changed everything. By sinning, they joined the rebellion of the fallen angels. This one act of disobedience allowed sin and death to enter this world and dominate it. It allowed Satan and the demons to control this world. Satan became the god of this world. Adam and Eve’s sin ruined human nature. Every aspect of who we are was affected – our mind, emotion and will; our body, soul and spirit; our sexuality; our relationships with one another and with the creation. And, worst of all, the fall of man ruined our relationship with God.
When He appeared in the garden, instead of coming to God, Adam and Eve avoided Him and hid among the trees. They were alienated from the Creator, who is the Source of Life. Instead of being headed to life, they were headed to death – the First Death – physical death, followed by the even worse Second Death – which is Gehenna, Hell, the Lake of Fire.
But God did not leave humanity in this ruined, helpless, hopeless condition. The Lord promised that He would send the Seed of the Woman, a very special human being who would crush the head of the satanic snake and reverse the damage done in Eden.
Until the Seed of the Woman arrived, who is the Messiah, and the Son of God, the Lord provided a way for our sins to be temporarily covered so that a right relationship with God could be experienced. That temporary covering came through the sacrifice of innocent animals. Instead of their covering of leaves, which they made for themselves, the Lord provided Adam and Eve with garments of skin, which came from the first animals that were sacrificed. Those garments of skin, and the blood of the animals that was shed, covered the nakedness and sinful condition of Adam and Eve and enabled a right relationship with God to be restored.
Genesis 4-9: The Corruption Of Humanity And The Flood
But even with the temporary atonement that came from the death of the animals, the consequences of sin continued to spread. Cain, the first human being born into this world through a now fallen human woman, murdered his brother, Abel. That was a dark shadow of things to come. Within several generations, humanity became violent and corrupt. Things got so bad that the Lord destroyed humanity with a world-wide flood. Only righteous Noah and his wife, three sons and their wives survived the destruction.
Genesis 10-11: The Repopulation And Recorruption Of Humanity
After they came out of the ark, Noah’s descendants began repopulating the world. But again, within a few generations, humanity became corrupt. The descendants of Cham, Shem and Yafet turned away from the one true and living God who alone is able to redeem, and began worshiping false gods. They sacrificed their children to these gods. They became sexually perverse, militaristic and cruel.
Genesis 12-50: The Creation Of The Redeeming Nation
This time, instead of destroying recorrupted humanity and leaving a remnant to begin again, the Creator did something different. He created a special nation. He began this nation by choosing one man – Abraham. The Lord made a covenant with him that included the promise that through Abraham and his descendants, the nations of the world would be blessed. This covenant was reaffirmed to Isaac and to Jacob. Through Jacob’s descendants, the truth about the one true God who alone is able to redeem human beings would be revealed to the other peoples. God’s good laws and wise principles would be seen by the other nations. Through the Chosen People, the true way of atonement, through a God-ordained sacrificial system, would be most clearly seen. Finally, through Israel, the Seed of the Woman, the Messiah, the Redeemer and Savior of the world would come and undo all the damage done in Eden.
Exodus 1-12: Salvation From Egypt
When the nation of Israel was in the early stages of formation, the surrounding peoples were older, bigger, stronger – and they were evil. How could God grow a holy nation in the midst of these unholy nations, so that the nation would be safe, and not be corrupted by the other nations, and become useless? The Creator needed a way to protect this infant nation while it grew to maturity.
Here’s how He did it: The Lord arranged things so that the nation of Egypt would be an incubator for the Chosen People. God arranged things so that there was a devastating, seven year famine in that part of the Middle East, and the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob migrated to Egypt, where the Lord had previously arranged for Joseph to be. Joseph was placed in a position of authority so that he could store enough food for the Egyptians and the Israelis to survive the famine. There, in Egypt, the infant nation survived the famine, settled and began to multiply.
But years later a new Pharaoh came to power who did not remember Joseph and all the good he had done, and instead of showing gratitude towards Joseph’s people, the king enslaved us. To control our multiplying population, he began killing our sons.
The next part of our story focuses on one of those sons who was targeted for death. Moses was born, put in a basket and placed along the shore of the Nile river. He was found by the daughter of the king and raised in the home of Pharaoh, with all the advantages of being a prince of Egypt.
When he became an adult, Moses went to his people and saw how difficult life was for us – the slavery, the hard labor and mistreatment. He saw an Egyptian who was mistreating one of us and killed him. The murder became known and Moses fled to Midian, where he married Tziporah, the daughter of the priest of Midian.
One day, while he was near Mount Sinai and taking care of the family’s flock, God spoke to him from a bush that was on fire but didn’t burn.
The Lord informed Moses that it was His intention to free the suffering Israelis and bring us to the land He gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses was instructed to return to Egypt, confront the king and demand the release of the Jewish people. Understandably, Moses was reluctant to accept this challenge. God reassured Him that He would help him. He would do miracles that would convince the Egyptians to release the Jewish people, and Moses would successfully lead them back to this same mountain.
Moses returned to Egypt and confronted the king, but Pharaoh refused to let Israel go – time after time after time. After each refusal, God poured out a devastating plague on the land of Egypt. These plagues not only humbled the Egyptians, but also demonstrated the superiority of the God of Israel over the gods of Egypt. The Egyptians worshiped various animals, men like Pharaoh, the Nile river and the sun; and when their gods were affected by the plagues, the God of Israel was shown to be superior to the gods of Egypt.
The tenth plague was the worst of all – death for all the first-born sons throughout the land of Egypt – the first-born of Israel and the first-born of the Egyptians, and even the first-born of the animals. There was only one way a first-born son could survive that terrible night – by his family killing an unblemished, year-old male lamb and placing some of the blood on the two doorposts and the top of the door of the home.
That first Passover there was a great outcry throughout Egypt, because every home experienced the death of the first-born son. But as He promised, on each door where He saw the blood of a spotless lamb, God passed over that home and spared the son from death. After experiencing the miraculous power of the God of Israel and the death of his first-born son, Pharaoh finally released the holy nation of Israel from the incubator of Egypt. The story of Passover is amazing, and we still celebrate it 3500 years later. Of course, for those of us who know that Yeshua is the Messiah, we also understand that Passover was a prophecy of a greater lamb and a greater redemption that was to come.
Exodus 13-14: Passing Through The Red Sea
Our story doesn’t end with Passover. The next day we left our homes and arrived at the Red Sea, which was the border of Egypt. Meanwhile, Pharaoh had a change of heart and decided it was a mistake to free us. He sent his army to re-enslave us. The Lord intervened and placed a cloudy pillar between us and the Egyptian army. Then He divided the waters and enabled us to walk through the sea on dry ground, to the other side. When the Egyptians followed, the walls of water collapsed, drowning their mighty army. We were finally free from Egypt. The Red Sea is water that separates us from Egypt. It represents a decisive break with the past. It’s the ending of an old enslaved way of living and the beginning of a new, redeemed way of living.
The Red Sea experience immediately follows Passover. The one who experiences salvation through Messiah, our Passover Lamb, should be baptized as soon as possible, and with the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit living in him, and the wisdom of the Word of God and the help of Messiah’s Community – make a decisive break with old sinful ways of living, and begin a new, godly way of living.
Exodus 15: A New Song
The first thing we did on the other side of the Red Sea was sing, praising God for His great saving power. Salvation and a decisive break with the sinful past and commitment to a new life results in a new song – full of joy and truth and praise to God. Are you experiencing that kind of happiness? A happiness not dependant on circumstances, but a deeper kind of joy that comes from knowing you are a new creature, forgiven, redeemed, right with God and sure to live forever? Salvation produces happiness, but living in a fallen world brings trials.
Exodus 15: Trials In The Wilderness
The story of Genesis and Exodus continues with Israel in the wilderness, headed first to Mount Sinai and then on to the promised land. The wilderness represents the life of a person who has been saved, but is still living in this fallen world. The promised land represents life in the heavenly Jerusalem.
The Chosen People were now in a wilderness. Hundreds of thousands of people and their animals needed water to drink. We came to a place that had water, but it was too bitter to drink. Moses prayed and the Lord showed him a tree, which, when cut down and put into the bitter water, caused the bitter water to become sweet. The lesson? After we experience salvation from our Egypts by having faith in Messiah, our Passover Lamb, and we make a decisive break from the past and cross the Red Sea by being baptized; and even after experiencing joy, we will experience trials. Some of our trials may be very bitter. But our trials can produce something sweet. God uses trials to purify us and refine us and bring us to spiritual maturity. Knowing this should help us endure our trials with a good attitude.
Exodus 16: Provision In The Wilderness
There is joy in the wilderness. There are trials in the wilderness. But there is provision in the wilderness. After leaving the place where the bitter water became sweet, and going to another place that had good water, as the people journeyed to Mount Sinai, we complained about missing the good food back in Egypt. The Lord caused a huge number of quail to land and manna to fall. However, He also punished us for our lack of gratitude for what He had provided. The lesson for us: God is able to provide for us in this fallen world. He promises to meet our needs – not our wants. He wants us to be thankful for what we have, not complain about what we don’t have. He wants us to learn to be content if our needs are being met.
Exodus 16: Rest In The Wilderness
There are trials in the wilderness but there is also rest in the wilderness. The Lord commanded the people to rest every seventh day. He promised to give them enough provision during the first six days so they could rest on the seventh. The lesson for us? We can enjoy spiritual rest, even in a fallen world, a world which has ways of tiring us out, when we know that Messiah did the work of salvation for us; when we understand that we are saved by God’s grace and our faith, not our works, not our efforts; when we know that we are right with God and will live forever with Him. We can enjoy spiritual rest in this world. And it’s also good for us to have a day of physical rest each week; take a break from our normal activities – and focus on God and God’s people.
Exodus 17: Continued Provision In The Wilderness
The Lord had turned the bitter water sweet. He provided manna and quail. As we continued our journey to Sinai, we came to Rephidim, but there was no water there. The Lord instructed Moses to strike a rock, which he did, and water miraculously flowed from the rock that met the needs of the entire nation. The lesson for us? The Lord will meet our needs, especially our spiritual needs. He will satisfy our spiritual desires. Messiah promised that those who believe in Him will be given abundant, never-ending spiritual life from His Spirit living in them. He will meet our needs for life, for meaning, for purpose, for a close relationship with the living, eternal God.
Exodus 17: Battles In The Wilderness
At Rephidim, the Amalekites attacked us. When Moses held his hands up, Israel prevailed. When his hands got tired and he let them down, Amalek prevailed. So Aaron and Hur supported Moses’ hands until the Amalekites were defeated. The lesson for us? Our prayers, combined with the support of our brothers and sisters in Messiah’s Community, will enable us to be victorious in our battles – our inner battles and our battles against outside forces that would harm us. We need to learn how to pray, and we need the support of Messiah’s community so that we can be victorious in our battles.
Exodus 18: Leadership In The Wilderness
Moses’ father-in-law arrived. He saw Moses burdened by his responsibilities and advised him to appoint qualified men to share the responsibilities. The lesson for us? Messiah’s Community needs God-appointed spiritual leaders – rabbis and pastors and teachers and those who will lead us in the work of evangelism. We must be actively involved with a community that has God-ordained leaders who inspire us by their example, teach us and challenge us.
Exodus 19-23: Spiritual Growth In The Wilderness
Finally, in fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to Moses, we arrived at Mount Sinai. There, in an awesome display of power, the Lord gave us the Ten Commandments, followed by more laws and teachings. This too applies to us: We are saved by hearing the Good News about Messiah, our Passover Lamb. It’s a simple message, so simple that a child can understand it. But there is always more to learn. The Lord wants us to grow in our knowledge of Him and His Word, and grow in our obedience to Him and His Word.
Exodus 24: Making And Celebrating The Covenant In The Wilderness
At Sinai, a covenant was made between God and Israel. It was sealed with the blood of animals that were sacrificed and celebrated with the leaders ascending Mount Sinai and eating a covenant meal in the presence of God. In a similar way, Messiah’s Community has a covenant meal. We celebrate Messiah’s New Covenant by eating bread and drinking wine in the presence of God.
Exodus 25-31: Building The Tabernacle In The Wilderness
Moses ascended Sinai and was given instructions to build the Mishkan. The Tabernacle was the place where the sacrifices would be offered which provided temporary atonement. The Tabernacle was the place where God would be able to live among us in a special way. For us today, even though we are living in a fallen world, we can have continual forgiveness and the ability to worship God in spirit and in truth, and the ability to enjoy being close to God. God lives in us through His Spirit and we become the Tabernacle, the place where God lives on Earth.
Exodus 32-34: Failure And Recovery In The Wilderness
While Moses was on Sinai, the people broke the covenant by worshiping a golden calf. When Moses came down the mountain, he broke the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written. This was a symbolic act which showed that we had broken the covenant we just made with God. The golden calf was burned, ground to powder, mixed with water and drunk by the people, demonstrating it was not God. Then, after being severely punished, and after feeling remorse and confessing our sins, Moses ascended Sinai again. New tablets were made. The covenant was renewed. The lesson for us? Like Israel, the sons and daughters of God will make mistakes. We will sin. We will have failures. There will be divine discipline. But God is gracious and we can receive mercy and be renewed – if we confess our sins and turn back to God.
Exodus 35-40: Building And Filling The Tabernacle
Exodus ends with the Tabernacle built, the priests ready to be ordained for their very important ministry, and the glorious, dwelling presence of God filling the Tabernacle.
Genesis and Exodus end, but the great story of redemption continues. The Chosen People will go on to experience great supernatural victories and also many shameful defeats. We will enter the land of Israel, and experience a devastating exile; and also a return from exile. God will raise up prophets, priests and kings, holy men and holy women to help us, until the ultimate prophet, priest and king, the Messiah, the Seed of the Woman, who alone is able to redeem us from the ruinous consequences of the Fall, arrives and brings ultimate salvation to Israel and the nations of the world.
And God is faithful to His promises, and the Messiah did come and accomplished a great salvation by living a perfect life and dying an atoning death; and rising from the dead, ascending to Heaven, and sending His Spirit to those who know these truths and become loyal to Yeshua. So now, we who believe are part of this greatest of all stories.
To help us remember our amazing deliverance from Egypt, and how great God is and how He is able to save human beings from the greatest forces arrayed against them, each year the Jewish people ask four questions on Passover. I want to conclude by asking you some questions:
Have you observing the true meaning of the Passover? Is Yeshua your Passover Lamb? Do you know that He is the Seed of the Woman, the Messiah, the Son of God, the risen and living Lord and Savior? Have you applied His blood to the doorposts of your heart by believing in Him and transferring your loyalties to Him?
Have you passed through the Red Sea by making a decisive break with the sins of the past and are you living a new, godly life? Have you made a commitment to join Messiah and His Community? Have you express this by being baptized?
Are you experiencing the happiness that comes from knowing Messiah, our Passover Lamb, and the xxodus from your Egypts of sinful living that He provides?
Are you receiving spiritual food and drink to sustain your spiritual life? Are you close to God, and drawing spiritual life and power from Him?
Are you growing in your knowledge of God and His Word?
Are you part of a community with God-ordained leaders who can give you the help and support you need?
Are you through prayer and support from Messiah’s Community, overcoming your Amaleks?
Do you understand that trials are necessary and God will use them to purify you and bring you to spiritual maturity?
Are you thankful for what you have, or are you complaining about what you don’t have? Are you learning how to be content if your needs are being met?
And, are you doing your part to tell others this great story of ruination, and redemption, through Messiah, our Passover Lamb?
Let’s pray: Avinu Malkaynu, our Father and our King, Your word teaches us that these things happened to the Jewish people as an example and they were written down for our instruction. Thank You that You designed things so that we can learn valuable lessens from the story of Genesis and Exodus. Help us learn the lessons and benefit from Israel’s experiences, and our victories and our defeats. Help us to play our part in the ongoing story of world redemption. Help us to carry on Messiah’s mission, be His ambassadors, representing Him and proclaiming the Good News of salvation to a lost and dying world. Amen.